BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana lawmakers are looking to help prevent accidental overdoses from drugs laced with fentanyl.

House Bill 212 looks to take fentanyl test strips off of the drug paraphernalia list. These strips can safely test to see if a drug is laced with fentanyl without them knowing. Despite growing calls for availability, fentanyl test strips are illegal to own or distribute in Louisiana. The bill by Rep. Dustin Miller would legalize the strips so outreach groups can get them into the hands of people who need them.

“There’s been a significant increase in unnecessary fentanyl overdoses. Why do I say ‘unnecessary’? A lot of individuals are not purchasing or using fentanyl,” Rep. Miller said.

The Louisiana Department of Health reports fentanyl-related overdoses were 119% higher in 2021 than 2020 in the same four-month period. The test strips give people rapid results to see if the drugs they are taking have been laced with the deadly opioid.

“People are trying to get high, not to die,” said Tonja Myles of Set Free Indeed Ministry. “Of course we want people to get the help they need because this is not a war on drugs, it’s a war on addiction, and right now ain’t nobody safe. It’s laced everywhere and we’re seeing people from the curbside to the country club who are dying.”

If the bill passes, people will no longer be penalized for owning the test strips. And nonprofits can apply for grants to distribute them. There was no objection to the bill. It now heads to the house floor for more debate.